In addition to maintaining their grades, prioritizing their extracurricular activities to balance out their application, and preparing for fall testing— the ACT or SAT, in particular—it is essential that seniors come up with an organized schedule to help manage the college application process.
As a result, I not only encourage students to start the process early—preferably in the summer before school starts—but I also encourage them to place an emphasis on making a timeline to help them manage everything on their plate. With that in mind, here are some tips for students to help with that process and a highlight of the important deadlines they’ll need to know.
October is the most important month of the year for high school seniors! For starters, this is the time they need to sit down with their counselors and/or mentors and narrow down their college lists. However, that alone is not enough. Students should have an idea of what the academic standards are for each college on their list, as well as the test scores they need to strive for. This will help when it comes time to break up their lists in the target, reach, and safety categories. However, it will also aid them when it comes to planning out their winter. Will you need to take that ACT or SAT once again in December? It’s essential to map out your plan in advance!
Additionally, October is the perfect time for students to plan in-person or virtual college tours since many colleges and universities host them in the fall. Not only will this help seniors narrow down their school lists further, but they’ll learn important details that will help the decision process in the long run such as learning about what programs and organizations the schools have to offer.
Finally, I can’t stress enough how important it is for seniors to keep track of those deadlines and prioritize getting their college essays done early! The Early Decision and Early Action deadlines are November 1st, so students should already know which applications they need to get done.
Looking at the bigger picture, however, it is just as important for students to start early on supplemental essays for other colleges and finish the Common App as soon as possible so it doesn’t sneak up on them when regular decision deadlines hit the first week of January.
Not only do seniors have to balance all of this with school and their personal extracurricular activities, but the last thing I envision them wanting to do is spending their winter breaks stressing over college essays. So encourage them to complete these applications early so they can breathe easy later.
You can even encourage them to get their high school transcripts in order—making sure they’re accurate at that—and begin researching some scholarships they might be interested in applying to. As stressful of a time this is, seniors do have the ability to make it fun and exciting. But it starts with putting in that hard work up front!